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Utah's Private Clubs A Thing of the Past - Sweeping Liquor Law Changes Embraced by Salt Lake CVB

Published: 03/20/2009
Following decades of baffling visitors with its quirky liquor laws, Utah legislators recently passed sweeping changes to the state's oft-criticized liquor laws, including the elimination of the state's private club system, a move that will simply add to Utah's ever-growing attributes as a world-class convention and tourism destination.

Surprising to many first-time visitors, Salt Lake has long been home to numerous brew pubs featuring award-winning brewmasters and an eclectic, diverse nightlife scene, but Utah's unique liquor laws have caused confusion to many considering a Utah meeting, convention or vacation. The bill to change what has been referred to as archaic legislation will introduce a sense of "normalcy" to Utah's clubs and bars, making them an attribute now as opposed to a liability to the state's tourism marketing efforts. Couple that with Salt Lake's incredible meeting facilities, expansive array of accommodations and dining options, vibrant cultural arts scene and world-class outdoor recreation, and Salt Lake is a formidable destination for any and all groups.

"These changes have been sought by Utah's collective tourism industry for as long as I can remember," commented an elated Scott Beck, President & CEO of the Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Long-time visitors and locals have always known that our liquor laws were more of a perceived barrier to getting a drink in Utah, but that perception was reality to many meeting professionals and potential visitors, sometimes taking Salt Lake and Utah out of the running altogether as a destination. These changes will put Salt Lake's clubs and bars on par with those in most other states and, in turn, enhance Salt Lake's meeting and tourism product-putting us in an incredible position when considering the many other attributes of Salt Lake."

Utah Senate President Michael Waddoups called the bill "a magnificent, monumental, history-making piece of legislation." State lawmakers in the Senate passed the measure unanimously and applauded after the vote, with some saying, "I'll drink to that."

The state's private club system required patrons wishing to enter a drinking establishment to become "members" by completing a short application and paying for an annual or temporary membership. Following Governor Jon Huntsman's signing the bill into law, Utah's clubs and bars can open their doors to everyone 21 years or older on July 1, 2009, eliminating the requirement membership.

The Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau is a private, non-profit corporation responsible for the promotion of Salt Lake as a convention and travel destination. Over its 25 years, the SLCVB has increased convention revenue from $11 million to $326 million, fulfilling its mission of improving the area economy by attracting and providing support to conventions, leisure travelers and visitors. Salt Lake is a unique fusion of metropolitan city and quaint mountain town; the towering Wasatch Mountains that embrace Salt Lake offer a dramatic backdrop to the vibrancy and activities of downtown. Having completed a $58 million expansion in 2006, the Salt Palace Convention Center now boasts 675,000 square feet of exhibit and meeting space, ideal for groups of all sizes and needs. For more information on all that Salt Lake has to offer, go to